image galleriescontactsubscribe

Birds and Fish

MAY 21, 2015
Back in January I was approached by SooJin to do a piece, a full page, direction was "crowded" or "ready to burst", something like that. I love that kind of direction, eliminates so much clutter and yet presents a challenge to try and convey that simple message-maybe simply, maybe more complex.
I had two roughs among several, one was fish and one was birds. SooJin told me to go ahead-I thought she said "fish"-maybe because I wanted to do the fish. I worked and obsessed and drew and obsessed for days over the swirling ball of carp. The night before it was due I decided to check back on the approval e-mail-it was birds not fish. So with one night to finish I cobbled together the bird composition, not the one you see here, I felt terrible.
Let me back track. I had seen SooJin at an SI event and we were chatting, I was as I often do, talking about being burnt out or uninspired, needing time off. SooJin's response-"So are you open for work?". You have to be an illustrator or artist, someone who struggles with inspiration, self doubt, questions of whether we are being our best, answering some sort of calling, or simply working hard enough to understand what a response like that means. It's a timed challenge, a recognition and understanding of our craft that few art directors get. -Feeling buent out? Need a challenge? Here you go. So when I set out on this assignment you can see where my head was at-do good stuff-different-challenging-thus the agonizing over the fish. I felt terrible about handing over my half assed bird composition-which will not be shown.
A month or so later I again see SooJin at SI-she says the bird piece is being held for a month-so I come clean and tell her that I thought the fish was the final and that I rushed through the birds. I said I'd like to do them again. She of course said my previous birds were great, maybe they were okay, not to me.
So I re drew the birds-my way-and I was pretty happy with the challenge. The fish were shelved but came up in a round of roughs for another project for SooJin, a cover and interior. When I was agonizing over the fish earlier-I felt they needed to be contained-in a bowl-a pot-something-and so came the trophy solution. 
So thank you to SooJin for getting me to reach a bit deeper-not sure anything is a finish-it's process-I like the idea of doing more organic stuff. And as fate would have it I got a call from Kevin Fisher at Audubon asking if I'd like to do one of the reimagined Audubon pieces-YES! I would very much like that. So using lessons learned on the bird cage I just finished that piece-and will show a full version at a later date.
A few glimpses of my somewhat crude pencil drawings that I use in this approach. I'm so comfortable with drawing in vector that I don't need to follow my drawn lines exactly-not what I want-but I do try to resolve issues at that point. For Audubon I admit to following his bird silhouettes rather closely and improvised the rest.